With its series “Star Wars Visions”, Disney succeeds in the unprecedented marriage between Japanese animation and the universe of the saga

As Disney multiplies like hot cakes the sequels and parallel stories of the Star Wars universe, the new series Star Wars Visions – visible since September 22 on the streaming service of the Disney + group – appears as a completely new initiative in the sprawling galaxy of the saga. Star Wars Visions is composed of nine short films made by Japanese animation studios. Each story is independent and the series is not part of the “canon” universe of Star Wars, that is to say that the events taking place there do not impact the original saga.

From the first episode, titled The dual, The tone is set. The landscapes of the planet on which “Ronin”, a lone warrior lands, resemble the Japanese countryside. But vestiges of the Empire, which we guess collapsed a long time ago, are still visible in the decor. A horde of stormtroopers, with armor washed out over the years, haunt the countryside and plunder the peasants’ scarce resources. The black and white drawings are halfway between Japanese prints and manga.

We can say without hesitation, the marriage of Japanese animation and the Star Wars universe works wonderfully. Looking at the nine episodes, the Japanese setting of this new series is obvious. So much so that it allows us to question the very essence of the very distant galaxy. Like a return to the source of the world of George Lucas. Beyond the drawings, the masters of Japanese animation bring to the worlds of Star Wars the Zen philosophy that espouses the precepts of the Jedi. The latter are also present in one way or another in each episode. In the background, the series tells the story of the universe deep, like a mirror held out to our good old Earth. Civilizations, even interstellar ones, cannot stand the test of time and machines will never be as reliable as the forces of nature.

In episode 4, The Bride of the village, one of the characters affirms for example that the inhabitants of the planet on which the action takes place “have a deep respect for nature. They live in harmony with it”. There is a scent of Miyazaki’s work in this sequence where a newlywed couple meets a local deity. Moments later, another phrase sounds like a Buddhist precept. “The sun is rising. It started to rise long before we were born and will continue to set long after we are gone.”

A lightsaber fight scene in Episode 5 of the Star Wars Vision series. & Nbsp;  (Star Wars Vision / Disney)

There is also a certain logic to finding the Lightsabers and Jedi in each of the episodes of the series, even though the Masters and their Padawans are often distant descendants of a vanished Jedi order. After all, the very etymology of the name Jedi coined by George Lucas is said to have its origin in Japanese. Jidai-geki, name of a Japanese theatrical, film and television genre devoted to the medieval history of Country of the rising sun.

In general, the boundless imagination of Japanese directors gives the world of Star Wars a facelift. The short films leave the beaten track of the saga to explore completely new places and characters, unlike, for example, the last trilogy which was inscribed very faithfully in the footsteps of the two original trilogies.

A crash scene from the Star Wars Vision series. & Nbsp;  (Star Wars Vision / Disney)

In Star Wars Visions, however, the episodes are uneven. The sublime episode 1 The dual, realized by Takanobu Mizuno, entry place the bar very high and the whole is not then of the same quality. Episode 3 Twins for example does not bring much in terms of surprise and reflection, while episode 5 The Ninth Jedi with his lightsaber smith and old tea-drinking droids is precious like crystal Kyber. In a very zany opera-rock style, episode 3 which features a group of musicians led by a Hutt guitarist is also worth the detour.

A very zen quote from one of the Jedi masters of the series would almost sum up the vibe of these nine episodes to be enjoyed with curiosity: “Whatever your power, it is not eternal”.

Star Wars Visions is available on the Disney + streaming platform.

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